Farmer’s Delight is a country estate dating back to pre-Revolutionary America. The house itself was built in the 1790’s by Colonel Joseph Flavius Lane (1756 – 1803) on a five hundred acre parcel of land that can be traced to the original King Charles II 1661 land grant of 5,282,000 Virginia acres to seven English noblemen – all the territory lying between the Rappahannock and Potomac rivers. On his 500-acre parcel, Colonel Lane incorporated a small pre-existing stone cottage into an imposing Federal-style mansion which survives to this day.
Having passed through a number of hands over the course of the Republic’s history, Farmer’s Delight came at last into the possession of Ambassador George Crews McGhee in 1948. McGhee (1912 – 2005) was a Texan who became imbued with the spirit of public service while attending Oxford University on a Rhodes scholarship in the mid-1930’s. After receiving his doctorate in the physical sciences, McGhee returned to the USA and used his training in geology to become an independent producer of oil, a wildcatter. He discovered oil in several states and became independently wealthy by the age of thirty. Recognizing that he was free from Adam’s curse of daily labor, Dr. McGhee devoted his life to the service of his nation.
He joined the War Production Board in Washington before Pearl Harbor and served in World War Two as a naval lieutenant. After the war, he entered the U.S. State Department, where he began a twenty year career in the diplomatic corps. Serving under four presidents, from Truman through Johnson, McGhee was Ambassador to Turkey and to West Germany, as well as being the holder of numerous other posts with the State Department.
In 1948, the Ambassador and his wife Cecilia DeGolyer McGhee purchased Farmer’s Delight as an English-style country retreat from their weekday activities in Washington, DC, an hour and a half to the east. McGhee made many substantial improvements to the property which became his principal place of residence after retiring from public service in the late 1960’s. Among other uses, the estate became the repository for the numerous books and artifacts which the always intellectually curious Ambassador had collected during his years of travel around the world. Farmer’s Delight was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.
Farmer’s Delight has many splendid vistas for observing the eastern and the western sky. From Colonel Joseph Lane to Ambassador George McGhee to now, the place itself, beautifully landscaped and much of it still a working farm, remains a rural treasure, a true delight.
Open by appointment
- Tour Information:
- Open by appointment
- 36276 Mountville Road
Middleburg, Virginia 20117
- (540) 687-3743
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Local Tourism Resources:
Visit Loudoun and Loudoun County Visitors Center
112-G South St. SE
Leesburg, VA 20175
703-771-2170 ext. 11 or 800-752-6118 ext. 11
Daily 9:00 am - 5:00 pm / Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Days http://www.visitloudoun.org